Charlotte author blends fitness with faith

NO MORE EXCUSES

Thomas Hundley's book, "Fit for The King," does not stress dieting to achieve the perfect look. Rather, it advocates being healthy in the body God means for us to have

Thomas Hundley had always been active, but when he joined the Army in 1993, his interest spiked. Now he has written a fitness book for Christians called “Fit for The King.”

His message: God created each of us different. What’s important, he says, is to be physically fit in the body God wants us to have, not starving ourselves in pursuit of what we think is the perfect look.

Born in Chicago and raised in Waynesboro, Miss., Hundley is now 37 and lives in Charlotte. He commutes weekly to Fort Jackson in Columbia, where he is based.

On Feb. 27 at 7 p.m., he will sign copies of his book at Books-a-Million in Concord Mills Mall.

The following excerpts are from a conversation I had with Hundley. I hope they inspire you as you continue your own fitness journey.

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Q. When did you begin your interest in fitness?
I have been an athlete all of my life, but really took a love for fitness after I joined the military. I found that waking up in the morning and doing something physical, whether going on a jog or going to the gym, was very therapeutic. It also gave me a lot of energy and a happy disposition throughout the day.

Q. Did you join the military from Mississippi?
I left Mississippi to attend South Carolina State University. After graduating college in 1993, I received a commission as an officer in the Army. This is when I became a full-time soldier.

Q. How long have you lived in Charlotte?
Three years.

Q. How did you end up here?
While I was deployed to Iraq, my family moved here from San Antonio, Texas. When I returned, I received an assignment to Columbia, and I joined them here in Charlotte. That is why I began the long daily commute. But I will say that the commute was a blessing. It gave me an hour and a half of quiet time with God every day. Those quiet moments were essential to me finding my life’s purpose and writing my book.

Q. Speaking of your book, what are the concepts behind “Fit For The King” ministries?
I began to fully commit myself to serving God after I went to Iraq in 2004 and began to develop a close and personal relationship with God. He revealed to me that He created me for a certain purpose and I could sense He was taking me on a journey to find that purpose. On April 29, 2007, while sitting in church in Charlotte, God revealed that he wanted me to bring my energy and passion for fitness to the body of Christ. In doing so, my task was not to just teach aerobics and fitness classes for churches, but to also minister to all what God says about health, fitness, and treating one’s body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. So I started a fitness ministry.

Q. How did you decide on the name “Fit For The King?”
That name was another revelation. While driving to work and meditating, the name Fit For A King popped in my head, a God-derived concept. With the help of a marketing team, the name became Fit For The King.

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Q. Are you a minister?
I am not an ordained minister, but I do possess the gift of ministry.

Q. Your ministry’s mission is to work with others based on Christian principals. What is the correlation between Christianity and fitness?
I believe that everything a person needs to know about living an exemplary life, or a life that pleases God, can be found in the Bible. The Bible contains examples of what foods are pleasing, the conduct in eating, the need to remain healthy, and how a person should treat their bodies. God chose me for this mission because he knows that I am going to speak in a language that reaches all genders, ages, races, and religions. He knows that my love for people and passion to help others will appeal to those who struggle with weight loss or proper eating. There are so many stories in the Bible that show a pattern of prayer, eating, physical activity, learning, and serving. That is what I bring to those who want to better know Christ — and as a bonus, who want to develop a healthier life.

Q. You take your fitness classes, personal training, etc., on the road to conferences, retreats and churches. Do you work only with faith-based organizations?
I work with any group who has a desire or interest in either losing weight or developing healthier lifestyles. For example, I currently work with over 130 students at South Carolina State University and a group from the Richland County Parks and Recreation Commission. I also work with many of the soldiers and civilians at Fort Jackson. But my message and my principles never change. My first and foremost mission is to spread the good news about Christ. That is the gift I bring, and the weight loss is the bonus.

Q. Do you own a fitness studio?
No, I do not. Owning a studio would limit my ability to reach the world of people God has called me to reach. But who knows what may happen in the future.

Q. With a multitude of fitness books in circulation, how does yours differ?
It is the only one that you don’t have to read cover-to-cover before beginning the plan. It is a one-day-at-time 40-step. 40-day guide to discovering the size God intended you to be. It is the only book that provides five components of healthy living: daily mental fitness, daily spiritual fitness, daily prayer, daily physical fitness and daily nutritional fitness. Not to mention, everything is based and backed by the Bible, so you know that I didn’t make it up or it is just my personal opinion. Plus it comes with a 30-minute workout DVD. Its originality is the reason why it was picked up so quickly despite me being a first-time author.

Q. How did the book move from a thought to a book?
I never intended to write a book. It is amazing how God works, but I began taking notes from the personal prayers and conversations I had with God. I also took notes from the advice, encouragement and meal plans that I would give to the people I helped everyday. After about a month or so of all the notes I compiled, I realized that God was giving me a daily guide that looked like a book. So I started writing a document that I thought would help people on a daily basis. The number 40 just seemed like the perfect number of days for transformation, not to mention the Biblical significance of the number 40.

Q. How long did it take to write it?
It took almost six months. I mostly wrote on the weekends from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and on days that God would not let me sleep. Some nights I would stay up and write and go to work the next day with no sleep. It is simply amazing how I had the energy to make it through each day without getting sleepy or tired.

Q. Have you written other books?
Fit for The King is my first book, and it was published immediately because of its originality. Since then, I have written a second book that the publishing company is holding for a later release. I expect that it will be released at the end of the year. The title may change but this book is called “God’s Plan for a Healthy Church.” I have also started on a cookbook that fits my everyday lifestyle. It tells how anyone can eat healthy, hearty and cheap. I eat weekly without missing a meal for about $20-25 per week. That includes snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Given our economic situation, I believe that this book is needed by us all. I’m excited about that one.

Q. How does your book motivate those who struggle physically and spiritually?
The book provides a simple approach to weight loss. As soon as you read the first step, you automatically say, ‘Hey, I can do this.’ Plus there is nothing impossible with God. The daily devotions, inspirations and prayers provide all the motivation a person needs to make it through. My message is, ‘Since you have tried every other man-made method to lose weight and they have failed you, then try God’s method, which never fails.’

Q. What qualifies you as an expert in fitness?
My experience in fitness, my passion and love for helping others and my calling and appointment by God make me an expert. He could have chosen anyone in the world to write this book or to possess the skills that I have. But he chose me, and you know that God does not make mistakes.

Q. What can we expect next from Thomas Hundley and “Fit For The King” ministries?
You can expect to see and hear me through radio, television and magazines talking about the miraculous things that God is doing through his servant. I have already made five internationally syndicated TV appearances within the past month and have been invited to appear on four others within the next two months. The sky is the limit, and I just plan to remain obedient and follow the instructions of God.

Q. Is there anything you’d like to add that I haven’t asked?
The message I hope everyone gets from reading my book is that every one of us has been given God-given talents and has been predestined to perform an important mission with those talents. Once you establish that relationship with our Father in Heaven, he will provide you everything you need to fulfill that mission. After which, you will receive the blessings that He promised you and fulfill the desires of your heart. Fit For The King is your first step along your journey, and it will help you build the strength and endurance needed to reach the finish line.

To learn more about Hundley, visit his website at www.thundley.com.

Sondra E. Z. Hines is an adjunct professor of health and wellness at a community college and is certified to teach group fitness and Zumba. Email: sondraezhines@yahoo.com.

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